14 November 2011

roasted miso curry

If you are looking to prepare more colorful meals, I suggest you give this a go. This was definitely one of those times where I wanted to pat myself on the back for having such a fun-looking dinner. In college my boyfriend (now husband!) challenged me to eat more colors since I was a very beige-centric eater. Weird how things change sometimes, eh?

So this past weekend I took a cooking class for the first time ever (Thanks, Mom!). I assume high school HomeEc doesn't count, right? I took a lovely class entitled Delicious Mediterranean Vegan, as instructed by chef Robin Asbell. I figured I wanted to take a class on a) something new that I don't already make all the time, and b) something I could eat. So that ruled out all the classes on soups and cupcakes. Knife classes could be useful, but mostly involved carving (then eating) meat. Wine tasting classes were too expensive. Baking bread is something I'm pretty comfortable with by now. So why not vegan? There's nothing bad or wrong or gross about plant-based food. In fact, my favorite part of the class (beside eating super tasty food, duh!) was learning super cool vegan nutrition facts. I think by necessity vegans are some the most knowledgable folks when it comes to nutrition. Robin often started with "Sorry this is boring, but..." before she went into nutrition/food chemistry stuff, but I loved it! The whole class felt like a conversation with her, and she told us lots of funny stories about being a vegan. As a vegetarian, I am totally familiar with some of the most annoying classics -- everyone thinks you're weird, there's always that one person who can't give it up/teases you relentlessly with hamburgers, getting really tired of people asking "but where do you get your protein?!"... and so on and so forth. Therapy.

During the class, I often found myself thinking, hey, I could totally do this! I love cooking for people. I love researching and experimenting. Such a scientist, I know. But one of my major hang ups about being a geoscientist is that I don't think I help people enough. I fell in love with my college over the recruiting campaign slogan "Think One Person Can Change The World? So Do We." The students are all passionate about something, and making the world a better place. I don't think I do enough of that. Sometimes I think I should have been a nutritionist or a food chemist. For now, I blog, and I hope I get people to try making themselves some good real food. :)

One more thing! I found out during class why onions make you cry! It turns out there are sulfur compounds released when you cut into an onion. Once they are airborne, they mix with the water in your tears, and BAM! Sulfuric acid in your eyeballs! Ahhh! Don't you feel so validated?! I always thought I was a total wuss and that one day I'd get used to it. No dice. It hurts like crazy every time. In fact, cutting onions even makes the cat cry, and he has three eyelids per eyeball, so I am so not the wuss here. Solution: I will continue to look super cool wearing my Onion Goggles in the kitchen, and otherwise be confused about why it doesn't hurt when I'm wearing contacts. But let's get serious here, I never wear my contacts. Glasses are way, waaay, cooler.

Enough of my stream of consciousness spouting forth at you. There's a dinner at stake here, yes? This recipe calls for pepitas. Don't let this fool you; these are just simple raw pumpkin seeds. I was all "oh, I don't know what that is, and I am ashamed, so I will just go ahead and use these pumpkin seeds here. Those will toast up nicely." Then I Googled it later. Now you can scoff at the gourmet word with me, and just call them pumpkin seeds, dammit. Maybe next time I will overcome my fear of asking someone at the coop if they really don't have any delicata squash. I get very shy while shopping at the coop for no really good reason.

Roasted Miso Curry
adapted from Miso-Curry Delicata Squash, yet again from Super Natural Every Day

12 oz. butternut squash
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white miso (of the fifth taste, umami. I will leave you with this to blow your mind.)
1 T. red curry paste
12 oz. extra-firm tofu (frozen and then defrosted, trust me, it is worth it!)
5 small-medium-ish purple potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ~1 cm cubes
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups kale, stems removed, then cut into ribbons and cooked
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
oodles of cilantro, to taste/tolerance

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
2. Peel the squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, then cut the halves again lengthwise (so now you have long quarters). Cut these pieces in 1/2 inch slices to make lots of little curved wedges.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, miso, and curry paste. Combine the tofu, potatoes, and squash in a large bowl with 1/3 c. of the miso-curry paste. Turn the vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
4. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until everything is tender and browned. Toss once or twice along the way, after things start to brown a bit. Be careful not to burn anything.
5. In the meantime, whisk the lemon juice into the remaining miso-curry paste, then stir in the wilted kale until coated (it soaks up the lemon juice in a very delicious way! I'd also recommend using this time to toast your seeds too.)
6. Toss the vegetables gently with the kale, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Enjoy! You'll always want your tofu this way for ever and ever.

**This recipe is an example in being a sneaky vegan: Don't tell anyone that you've cooked something vegan until after they ate it. Or just don't say anything. I totally pulled this on my husband a few days ago. Sneaky!**

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